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Vanilla Bean Production

A Case Study in Gender Analysis


The case of vanilla in Uganda
Government declares policy to promote cash
crops
Agricultural scientists suggest vanilla as cash
crop
Government gives incentives to farmers to
plant vanilla
Agricultural extension workers train farmers to
plant vanilla
Farmers given inputs - seed, fertiliser and
credit

Amsterdam, The Netherlands www.kit.nl


Steps taken and consequences
Agricultural extension stations try out vanilla
cropping
Selected field trials are carried out
Extension workers then train farmers
Farmers plant vanilla
After two years vanilla output is less than
targeted
After three years the output drops.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands www.kit.nl


Why is vanilla output decreasing?
Does it have to do with plant pathology?
Are the farmers not following instructions?
Is the extension service poor?
Did the farmers get their inputs in time and in
adequate quantity?

Amsterdam, The Netherlands www.kit.nl


Who is consulted?
Agricultural Research Institutes
They were asked to look into the quality of
input
Check plant pathology
Undertake more field trials

Agricultural Extension Service


Asked to improve extension services
Provide timely inputs
Mobilise farmer participation

Amsterdam, The Netherlands www.kit.nl


What questions did they ask?
Agricultural Research Institutes
Are the crops healthy?
Is crop management optimal?
Use of pesticides and other materials?

Agricultural extension services


What does farmer do when there is trouble
with crop?
Is extension service adequate?

Amsterdam, The Netherlands www.kit.nl


What happened?
No problem was detected with crop
management
Extension services not optimal but adequate
Farmers would like more inputs, especially
loan subsidies
Still the output decreased.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands www.kit.nl


What happened next?
The Womens Studies Department were doing a
study of vanilla production
The Government requested them to find out
why vanilla output was decreasing
The Womens Studies Department set up an
extensive enquiry

Amsterdam, The Netherlands www.kit.nl


What did they do?
Changed the research question

What are the relations of production?


Who owns the land?
Who owns the crop?
Who does planting?
Who does rearing?
Who does harvesting?
Who does the marketing?

Amsterdam, The Netherlands www.kit.nl


What did they do?
Changed the respondents
Asked vanilla growers but disaggregated by
gender
Asked both women and men since they both
work on the crop
Looked at the gender division of labour in
production - i.e. who was doing what, what
obligations did men have and women have.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands www.kit.nl


What else did they do?
Changed the way questions were asked
Asked women and men separately because
they have different roles and interests
Did not use questionnaires because women
are illiterate
Used participatory research methods to
provide conducive environment for free and
frank discussion.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands www.kit.nl


What did they find?
Vanilla crop is very labour-intensive
Men own the crop and do the initial planting.
Women of the household provide the labour for
the intensive cultivation. No other labour is
hired.
Women had to neglect their subsistence crops to
manage.
Men continued to cultivate their other market
crops
Women had to work harder and couldnt keep
up
Men do the marketing and control the cash

Amsterdam, The Netherlands www.kit.nl


What was the end result?
Women could not manage all the work - there
just was not enough time
They were losing their subsitence crops and
not getting the benefits of cash crop
production
They were sabotaging the crop by nipping the
bud at the point of germination

Amsterdam, The Netherlands www.kit.nl